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East Coast Weed: Rhode Island Wants Rec Marijuana, Vermont To Decrim

In November, two New England states — Massachusetts and Maine — voted to legalize adult recreational use of marijuana. Neighboring states, eager to tap into the revenue stream and put an end to a costly war on drugs, are quickly following in the footsteps.

  • Rhode Island lawmakers have proposed a bill that would allow for the recreational use of cannabis for those 21 and older.
  • Vermont, while not as bold ad Rhode Island, will attempt to decriminalize cannabis. The proposals would remove all civil and criminal penalties for possessing up to two ounces of dried marijuana for adults and would allow for modest home cultivation.

Rhode Island Has ‘Momentum’

“On the heels of Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and California, we think this year is a really great opportunity for us to get the bill passed,” said Jared Moffat, director of Regulate Rhode Island — a group supporting legislation to regulate and tax adult marijuana use. “It’s certainly not a guarantee, but we do have more momentum than we’ve ever had before,” Moffat said.

“With Massachusetts right across the border, it makes sense for Rhode Island to get its system running at the same time,” Moffat added.

The Rhode Island measure would:

  • Include mandatory product testing and labeling
  • Restriction on advertising
  • Funding to law enforcement
  • Limits on THC quantity per product
  • Mandatory reviews for all sale products.
  • Allow cities and towns to have some control over the operation of marijuana establishments within their jurisdiction by voter approval

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has remained mum on the legislation.

According to recent polling, 55 percent of Rhode Island voters support legislation to regulate and tax recreational cannabis use.

Vermont Takes Smaller Steps

Vermont lawmakers introduced a bill that would decriminalize cannabis, putting an end to jailing non-violent cannabis drug offenders.

H.170, “an act relating to possession and cultivation of marijuana by a person 21 years of age or older,” is a decriminalization measure and does not regulate or tax the production or sale of adult-use cannabis.

“We went that route last year, and we got turned down,” said Rep. Thomas Burditt, one of the bill’s sponsors. “I’m a supporter of legalization,” Burditt said, “but the constituents aren’t.”


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